Lawrence Dillon writes:

But I’m always amazed at the number of people who live perfectly comfortable lifestyles, yet insist on asking for comps at every opportunity. With all of the things we pay for without thinking, why do so many people consider music an essential part of their lives, but one that they should get for free?

In particular, I can’t understand why successful professional musicians want comps — after all, they can take the price of concert admission as a tax deduction.

He’s right. Most of my colleagues don’t want to pay for any concerts at all. One has even said, “We should never have to pay for tickets to concerts.” I can’t understand why my fellow musicians think we are any more deserving of freebies than anyone else out there. Some suggest it’s because we are underpaid, and I do understand that some folks I work with are making too little. But many of us are making enough money to own a home. I figure if I can own a home I can afford a ticket or two.

Now if a show isn’t selling well, and the people in power want to paper the house, I say by all means, give us some tickets! Heck, we might even use them. (Truth be told, when I get comps and give them out I often find the recipients don’t show up; not paying a cent makes it much more likely for them to opt out at the last minute.)

But really … we can purchase tickets now and then. It won’t kill us. It is tax deductible, and even supports fellow performers.


  1. I’ve had the same experience with friends who treat comp tickets as worthless, and the last thing I want to tell my friends is that what I do is without worth! I think you’re right that we should not take or distribute comps so presumptuously, and perhaps we should ask our guests to contribute in other ways – volunteer time or make a donation. The gift of a comp should represent an invitation to become involved, not a signal that our performances and our music are cheap.

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    Hi Matt,

    I’m with you; if we give out comps I think it only reasonable to ask the recipients to think about even a small donation. I’ve often thought that the organizations should ask us for the names of the people we give comps to — get them on the mailing list or something.

    But, mostly, I’ve found that “free” means “maybe I’ll go, maybe I won’t” and it really irks me. So I don’t take advantage of comps very often.